A $26 million annual salary offer by the St. Louis Cardinals insulted Albert Pujols, but that amount over the next two years will be just fine with Carlos Beltran.
The free agent outfielder came to terms late Thursday with the Cardinals in a move made by the club to replace some of Pujols’ lost offense in their 2012 lineup. Ironically, both players are represented by agent Dan Lozano.
The contract is for two years and $26 million, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. Beltran received full no-trade protection as well, adds Rosenthal.
|Beltran was with the New York Mets from 2005-July 2011|
In the final year of a seven-year, $119 million contract originally signed with the New York Mets in 2005, Beltran was dealt to the San Francisco Giants in July. The Cardinals will not forfeit their first-round draft pick in signing Beltran since his previous contract precluded the Giants from offering arbitration to the Type A free agent.
The 34-year-old switch-hitter has been one of the game’s top offensive forces, but has been limited by problem knees in recent years.
Beltran had a cortisone shot in his left knee during 2011 spring training. It was suggested he may have aggravated it while compensating for his right knee.
Beltran’s most recent move under the knife was surgery on his right knee in January 2010 to remove 20-30 loose particles. He wore a brace after his mid-season return and stopped playing in centerfield. The surgery decision caused controversy as the Mets originally were upset that Beltran had the procedure without their approval.
In the 2007-08 offseason, Beltran had surgery on both knees.
Beltran was able to play in just 145 games total over the 2009 and 2010 seasons before logging 142 this past season between the Mets and Giants. The 2011 National League All-Star hit 22 home runs and drove in 84, with a line of .300/.385/.525/.910.
Over his 14-year MLB career which began with Kansas City in 1998, Beltran has been an all-star six times. He has three Gold Glove Awards, two Silver Sluggers and was the 1999 American League Rookie of the Year.
Beltran is a career .283 hitter with 302 home runs and 1,146 RBI. His 302 home runs rank fourth among switch hitters from his first full season in the majors (1999) to present. Beltran has driven in over 100 RBI in a season seven times, most recently in 2008 with the Mets.
Beltran has appeared in the postseason twice, in 2004 with Houston and in 2006 with the Mets. In both of those years, Beltran and his team faced the Cardinals in the League Championship Series, with the Cardinals advancing to the World Series both times. In 2004, Beltran set numerous MLB postseason records including a record-tying eight home runs and a ML postseason record with a home run in five consecutive games (Game 5 of the NLDS through Game 4 of the NLCS).
The native of Puerto Rico resides in his home country in the off-season and played for Puerto Rico in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics.
With the 2012 Cardinals, Beltran will almost certainly begin the season in right field with Allen Craig perhaps out for at least a month recovering from knee surgery. It is unclear how much time Beltran can spend in centerfield because of his knees. Ideally, he would play there at least against left-handed pitching, with Jon Jay sitting.
With the move, the Cardinals will have 39 players on their 40-man roster. To see the 40-man, and the entire Cardinals minor league system by level and position, check out the Cardinals roster matrix at The Cardinal Nation Blog.
Brian Walton can be reached via email at email@example.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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